The Great Southern is hiding so many hidden treasures in our cheeky Western Australian locale. It’s a spot that ticks all the boxes on the tourism bucket list but without the flashy pretension of other holiday destinations. Its dramatic diversity of landscapes is one its most alluring features. The gastronomy of the region is showcased at the annual Taste Great Southern festival every February and March. But that’s not our only peak season. The region’s abundance is on show all year round. Take a tour of the Great Southern hotspots and plan your next West Australian adventure in Singlefile’s backyard. If you need assistance with accommodation we have listed a few recommendations of lodging that may suit your needs.
Denmark Visitor Tips
Where else in the world do towering karri trees meet sandy white beaches in a juxtaposition of the senses? Denmark is that union of green and blue, where forest and ocean are neighbours and Mother Nature’s artistry is on show everywhere you look.
Be inspired by the creativity of Denmark by cruising through the local galleries that specialise in timber and glass pieces, paintings, drawings and jewellery. Visit Parrot Jungle to discover birds and reptiles that have been roaming the earth for millions of years. Or the Denmark Animal Farm and Pentland Alpaca Stud where you can get up close and personal with the wildlife. Near Walpole, soar above the crowds by doing the Valley of the Giants Tree Top Walk lightweight suspension bridge lifts you 40 metres above ground where you can make friends with the 400-year-old tingle trees. Don’t want to walk? Take the Scotsdale Tourist Drive, which follows the route of the old timber cutting days, then head to William Bay National Park where the seascapes will leave you breathless, just like the temperature of the water in its tranquil Greens Pool where you can snorkel, dive or frolic in the beauty of the calm turquoise waters. Hang on, are they elephants at the water’s edge or just weathered rocks that look like a herd of these giant beasts? They are in fact a collection of super smooth Elephant Rocks, sitting in Elephant Cove, one of the most visited locations in Denmark.
Porongurup Travel Tips
Put on your walking shoes and hit the bush at Porongurup National Park. Wildflower season (September-November) is the most delightful time but the giant karri trees will beguile all year round. Fitness freaks can do the two-hour (3km) Porongurup Granite Skywalk or take a seat in the car and do the 5km drive along Angwin Park Road, which showcases magical granite outcrops and the Stirling Range.
Where to eat?
Hungry after all that walking? Treat yourself to an enlivening meal at Maleeya’s Thai Café on Porongurup Road. Its fit-out is modest but its fresh flavours will blow your mind, like the signature Tom Yum Goong (sweet and sour prawn soup). There’s also a craft shop and a nursery to meander through after your senses return. Fancy a tea? Drop into the Tea Room at the Porongurup Village Inn for good old-fashioned home cooking served with a smile.
Or take in a view of the national park by dining at the Karribank Country Retreat’s The Old Lodge Restaurant on Porongurup Road.
Frankland River Travel Tips
This sub-region is the quietest in the Great Southern family – it makes the perfect weekend getaway with loads of picnic spots and barbecue areas up for grabs. And in fear of pointing out the most obvious attraction, Frankland River’s namesake, the river, is the fishing destination of many a keen angler. The Frankland River flows into the Walpole and Nornalup Inlets, which also make great kayaking sites. Don’t forget to drop into one of the local olive groves to sample the golden olive oil made in the sub-region.
Mount Barker Travel Tips
Mount Barker centres around a thriving town with loads of historical signs of an era gone by. Drop into the old police station built by convict labour in 1868, the courthouse built in 1919, or two of the character-laden pubs on the high street for a schooner. There’s a parade of spectacular heritage farmhouses on the scenic Porongurup Road.
Need a good coffee? Drop into The Grocery Store on Langton Road in Mount Barker. Taste Kendenup Restaurant is a local standout, serving seasonal fare and regionally inspired dishes. Or there’s Whistlestop Restaurant & Café on Albany Highway that serves its casual fare with cosy open fires and lots of charm. And the Hilltop Tearooms and Weavery. Yes, expect a hand-woven article with your tea and scones. The Happy Bull on Lowood Road does great service, even better food and stop-in-your-tracks coffee. They also sell local honey.
Albany Travel Tips
Albany is the largest town of the Great Southern, and possibly the most popular. Why? Its beaches are out-of-this-world white, rivalling Bora Bora and the like. And we’ll let you in on a “little” secret – Little Beach. It sits in Two Peoples Bay Nature Reserve and packs a punch for the senses with its pristine sand, clear waters, gentle waves and rugged coastline.
When you’ve had enough of beach touring, hit Discovery Bay. It’s fascinating – a triple hit of the historic whaling station, the stunning Botanic Garden of West Australian Plants and a close-up farm that houses Australian wildlife. Keep your eyes peeled for migrating whales from July through to October. Head to Albany’s spectacular harbour, King George Sound for its views.
In terms of gastronomic delights, start your day in Albany at York Street Café with poached local free-range eggs. There’s also Frederick’s Café on York Street and Kate’s Place on Stirling Terrace. For a more serious food experience, head to Garrison’s, a fine restaurant perched high above the town of Albany with serious views across the harbour, King George Sound. It happens to sit right next door to the National ANZAC Centre, which is well worth a visit.